The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) is launching a new training program across WA aimed at improving immunisation rates for Aboriginal children.
The training program was developed in partnership with the Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD) at the West Australian Department of Health, and will train Aboriginal Health Workers across the state to administer and promote immunisations.
The course is part of a push to increase immunisation rates amongst Aboriginal children, which are currently around 5% lower on average than the general population.
“WA has the lowest immunisation rates in the country, and there is a substantive gap between immunisation rates among Aboriginal children and non-Aboriginal children,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox.
“As a result, Aboriginal children are up to six times more likely to suffer from some vaccine preventable diseases and mortality rates among Aboriginal children are higher than non-Aboriginal children.”
“This new training program could literally save lives.”
Ms Nelson-Cox said delivering immunisation programs to regional and remote populations in WA had many challenges.
“Currently only nurses and doctors are authorised to administer immunisations,” she said.
“This course will be delivered to Aboriginal Health Workers, increasing their scope to administer vaccines under a medical order, which we hope will contribute to higher immunisation rates.”
Ms Nelson-Cox said the benefit of training Aboriginal Health Workers was that they had access to Aboriginal children living in remote locations and were trusted by the communities where they lived.
She said there were currently about 300 Aboriginal health workers in WA who would be eligible to take part in the new training program.
The course is delivered over a two-week period, with the first workshop set to run in Port Hedland next week.
AHCWA is the peak body representing the 21 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in Western Australia.